The Bayan Small Press has been called one of the purest forms of the small press fine art, with its creator Claude Frederick’s personally in charge of book design, hand printing and even occasional illustration. The Banyan Small Press was a hand printed press, reproducing private works of poetry and reprints of the modern-day classics such as Gertrude Stein and James Merill on their tiny 10 by 14 inch Golding Press.
What is remarkable about the Banyan Press is the nature of its independence, with typesetting performed by Claude Frederick himself or by his then-partner Milton Saul. They are true examples of the private home-press initiative, which proves that the spirit of the small press has never really changed ever since its Renaissance inception.
The Banyan Press, although praised stylistically, has remained a labor of love for collectors rather than for great commercial value, with its collectability relying upon the character of Claude Fredericks and his unique place in the early modern literary scene. As a teacher, this somewhat reclusive man tutored no less than Donna Tart (who dedicated her second book, the Goldfinch to him), Brett Easton Ellis, Alec Wilkinson, Peter Golub and Kathleen Norris.
For the collectors eyes, almost any edition that you find of the Banyan Press is going to be so limited as to become special in some way, especially if you are a collector of the modern literary scene (from 1920’s onwards). Due to the scarcity of attention paid to Claude Fredericks and his gifts to literature, we are currently at risk of losing much of this heritage, and so collecting widely as well as deeply is encouraged.
Stephen, Spender. Returning to Vienna. Banyan (1947). 1947. Nine sketches by Stephen Spender
Stevens, Wallace. A Primitive Like an Orb. Banyan (1948). Two drawings by Kurt Seligmann
Guigo, I. The Solitary Life. Banyan (1977). A Letter of Guigo, Translated by Thomas Merton
Malamud, Bernard. Two Fables. Banyan (1978). The Jewbird and Talking Horse